Man using earplugs to protect his hearing before a concert.

Earplugs can be practical if you’re subjected to loud sounds, such as, something as basic as a snoring spouse, or a lawnmower in your backyard, or going to a concert at an arena. In the first two circumstances, they can help protect your ears by decreasing the volume. They help save your peace of mind and possibly even your relationships, in the last case, by letting you get a good night’s sleep. But are your ears being harmed by these protectors?

What’s The Point of Wearing Earplugs?

The case for earplugs is quite simple: Properly used, earplugs can help safeguard your hearing by minimizing your exposure to excessive sound levels. Perhaps you’ve noticed that your hearing seems different when you leave a loud venue, for instance, a football game with a noisy crowd, and you may also suffer from symptoms of tinnitus. Those tiny hairs are bent by this kind of noise exposure and that’s why this happens. It commonly disappears within a couple of days, because the hair cells have recovered.

But if you’re subjected to high decibels continually, for example, if you work on a construction site or at an airport, the aural attack on those tiny hair cells is unyielding. In this circumstance, those hairs never recover, they are permanently injured. You’ve got just about 16,000 of those little cells inside each cochlea, but up to 50% of them can be destroyed or at least injured before you would notice the change in a hearing test.

Is it a Possibility to Damage Your Hearing by Using Earplugs?

With all that, you’d think that wearing earplugs would be an obvious choice in terms of protecting your ears. But if your exposed to loud noises on a regular basis, this seems to be even more obvious (like on the job or when your spouse snores as mentioned), headphones that decrease, but don’t completely cancel, sound or over the head earmuffs are a much smarter idea. Earplugs are better applicable to one-off scenarios like a concert or sporting event than for everyday use.

Why? For one, earwax. So that they can protect themselves, your ears generate earwax, and if you’re regularly using earplugs, more earwax will be created, and you probably will jam it in with the plugs. This can result in issues such as impacted earwax, which can trigger tinnitus and other hearing concerns.

Ear infections can also result from overuse of earplugs. If you continuously use the same pair, and you fail to clean them between uses, they can become bacteria traps. Certainly, ear infections can be a disruption of your day to day life. If left untreated, in the worst situations, they can cause an ear infection.

How Can You Use Earplugs Without Risk?

Whether it’s a restful night sleep or safeguarding your hearing, there’s still a formidable benefit to wearing earplugs. You just have to be certain you’re using the correct kind and using them in the correct way. The porous material of foam earplugs is a germ paradise so it’s a helpful thing they are the least costly. Don’t put silicone or wax earplugs back in until they are thoroughly dry after utilizing warm water to entirely clean them. It’s also a good idea to store earplugs in a well ventilated place to prevent humidity, or worse, mold or bacteria, from building up.

You may want to speak with us about custom fit earplugs if you want or need them frequently. They are comfortable because they’re made from molds of your ears and they are reusable. Again though, to protect against any potential hearing problems, it’s important to practice good earplug hygiene!

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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